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Ayyam Gallery Beirut opens a solo exhibition of artist Elias Izoli
Untitled, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, dyptich, 250 x 360 cm.

BEIRUT.- Ayyam Gallery Beirut announces Seven Years, a solo exhibition of artist Elias Izoli. Featuring a new body of work, the exhibition highlights figurative paintings representative of the state Izoli has witnessed living in Syria over the past seven years.

Izoli continues to introduce new figures through his strong grasp of draftsmanship and sensitivity to colour. Drawing from his surroundings and the overarching atmosphere in his country of residence, somber yet softly coloured, the paintings depict children who appear to reach out to the viewer. With hunched shoulders and evocative gazes, either looking directly at the viewer or off to a distance unaware that anyone is looking, the children’s presence invokes a sense of intrusion in the viewer and a heightened sense of one’s own presence in front of the painting. The children’s strong gazes resonate with the viewer, building an empathic connection between viewer and subject. The melancholic nature of the works, combined with the muted palette Izoli uses, draws the viewer to step into these private spaces.

In some of the works, the children are placed alongside toys or objects with which they would usually playfully interact. In Untitled (2017), a beach ball is floating near a seated girl while she longingly gazes at it. Her body slightly turned towards the ball, hands in her lap, seemingly yearning, she shows no intent to get up and play, resigning herself to her chair. Izoli uses colours that on their own without context would be regarded as joyous and pleasant. However in the works, as in Untitled (2017) the yellow in the girl’s dress and in the ball contrast to the dark chair and background that Izoli paints, creating an honest depiction of what walking into these spaces, taken from real life, feels like.

Izoli’s latest works lie in a space between intimacy and invasiveness. Through these works Izoli depicts the general atmosphere he’s been living in over the last seven years, without highlighting small details that upon closer inspection, however, find their own way of making it into the works.

Elias Izoli is a self-taught painter whose creativity was harnessed at an exceptionally young age. In Damascus, his talent was recognised early on and he was given a solo exhibition at the Russian Cultural Centre at age seventeen. With consummate draftsmanship, a marked command of colour, and an intensive approach to capturing his subjects, Izoli’s compositions defy conventional portraiture. Colour is meticulously distributed and contrasted in sections, creating volume and dimension, and serves as an emotive indicator, while different uses of texture and clear divisions of the painting’s surface allow the viewer to enter the psychological depth of his subject matter.

Born in Damascus, Syria in 1976, Elias Izoli lives and works in the city. Izoli has exhibited regularly since 1993, and was included in exhibitions at Ayyam Gallery Beirut and Dubai in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2016.

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